A Lewiston oral surgeon may have a tough time convincing the Maine Board of Dental Practice that he should be allowed to keep his license.

After hearing from investigators who looked into 18 complaints filed against Jan Kippax, the board agreed to suspend the dentist immediately until March 17 and offered its preliminary judgment about his professional skills.

What’s not clear is why it took the state panel more than two years from the time it received the first complaint to take any action, a burning question on social media. Its executive director, Penny Vaillancourt, said she couldn’t talk about any aspect of the case or the process.

The board’s investigation cited 185 examples of Kippax allegedly failing to follow proper procedure, some of them serious, others less so. If true, though, all of them violate a vow he made in a 2003 consent decree to adhere to each of Maine’s dental rules and regulations.

One of Kippax’s former patients who didn’t file a complaint, Amy Michaud of Lewiston, said Wednesday she hopes the nine-member panel will revoke his dental license.

When she went to him three years ago to have two teeth pulled, she said, he wound up yanking out four of them, starting the painful process before she was fully under. Michaud said he left her mouth so bloody and sliced-up that she still has no feeling in her chin and lip on the right side.

Another, Lynn Mansfield, recalled waking up from a wisdom tooth extraction years ago feeling great pain and finding, to her shock, that Kippax had placed a cold can of Diet Coke against her face because he’d run out of ice to help hold down the swelling.

“It was so surreal that you don’t question it,” she said.

Though a final decision on his license won’t be made until after a hearing slated for March 10, the Auburn dentist who heads the board provided Kippax’s attorney with a harsh summary of what the board thought of him.

“Dr. Kippax’s failure to treat patients in a manner worthy of society’s trust have put the health and safety of his patients and staff in immediate jeopardy,” wrote Dr. Geraldine Schneider, the board’s chairwoman and a practicing dentist with more than four decades of experience.

In her Feb. 15 letter to Kippax’s lawyer, Schneider said that if the oral surgeon “is allowed to continue to practice in his reckless and harmful way, innocent patients are destined to continue to suffer dire consequences.”

Neither Kippax, 57, nor his attorney, James Belleau, returned calls Wednesday. Schneider referred questions to Vaillancourt.

Schneider’s letter said investigators inspected Kippax’s Main Street office, reviewed complaints filed against him and his response to them, and also  dug into the relevant records provided by Kippax.

Her letter cited 21 alleged failures of professional standards by Kippax that included failing to take the appropriate steps to control bleeding, removing the wrong teeth, restraining patients improperly, wearing contaminated gloves during procedures and providing too little relief for patients in pain.

All of them occurred within a 20-month period beginning in December 2014, according to the notice of an adjudicatory hearing — at which a judge will determine whether the claims are true or false — issued Wednesday. The 14-page document also cites specific problems found with each of the complaints received about Kippax.

In 11 of the complaints, an investigator determined that Kippax proceeded with a “painful dental procedure” even though a patient “instructed him to stop or vocalized distress.”

In July 2015, Kippax allegedly “extracted the wrong tooth” from one of the patients who complained about the pain.

In another, in December 2015, Kippax allegedly ignored pain complaints, refused to prescribe medication and failed to wear gloves while pulling a tooth.

The following month, with his heat sterilizers not working, Kippax “used Dawn dish soap to clean instruments placed in patients’ mouths,” the investigation found.

In February 2016, Kippax not only ignored a patient’s pain complaints, he physically restrained the patient “against his will” during a procedure, investigators said. Another patient later in the year also alleged she was restrained against her will.

In March 2016, with another patient voicing discomfort, Kippax “failed to wear clean gloves during a dental extraction,” the investigator charged.

In many of the cases, the investigation found, Kippax failed to keep proper records, provide required discharge information or provide follow-up care.

It’s not the first time that Kippax has run afoul of the dental board.

In 2002, the panel briefly suspended him and then placed him on a five-year probation for unprofessional conduct reported by nine former employees. In 2003, it suspended him again before putting him on yet another five-year probation that ended in April 2008.

As part of the agreement at the time, Kippax vowed that he would not commit “any further violation” of the state’s dental rules and went along with a provision that any violation would constitute disciplinary grounds that could include “modification, suspension or revocation” of his license to practice.

That Kippax has been able to work as an oral surgeon in Maine for so long with so many issues, Mansfield said, “gives me no confidence” in the regulators who are supposed to look out for patients.

After so many complaints over the course of years, Michaud said, it “will be disheartening” if regulators allow Kippax to continue to practice. Doing so, she said, could spread “an awful message about what our state represents.”

Kippax has had a license to practice in Maine since 1990. After studying biology as an undergraduate at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, he earned a doctorate in dentistry from Boston University in 1985. He trained in dental surgery afterward at both BU and Tufts University.

Kippax is board-certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

The adjudicatory hearing that will decide what, if any, discipline the board wants to impose will be held at 8 a.m. Friday, March 10, at the board’s 161 Capitol St. office in Augusta.

More coverage: More former Kippax patients accuse oral surgeon of misconduct | Lewiston dentist’s license suspended for incompetence

After going to Dr. Jan Kippax in 2014 to have two teeth pulled, Amy Michaud said she wound up with four teeth yanked and a lot of blood. She said she hopes his license is revoked by state regulators looking into later complaints from 18 patients.

Dr. Jan Kippax’s office is at the intersection of Main Street and Mountain Avenue in Lewiston.

Dr. Jan Kippax’s office is at the intersection of Main Street and Mountain Avenue in Lewiston.

Dr. Jan Kippax

Dr. Jan Kippax

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